The Hereford breed originated as a product of necessity. Efficient, adaptable and hardy, these cattle have always had a face to remember.
Nearly 300 years ago, farmers of Herefordshire, England, founded the breed in response to demand created by Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Efficient production, high yields and sound reproduction were of utmost importance.
Benjamin Tomkins is who to thank for the original design. A primary founder of the breed, Tomkins began in 1742 with a bull calf from the cow Silver and two cows, Pidgeon and Mottle.
Henry Clay, Kentucky statesman, brought Herefords to the United States in 1817. A true Hereford identity was not established in the states until William H. Sotham and Erastus Corning, Albany, N.Y., began the first breeding herd in 1840.
Among other renowned early Hereford breeders were Charles Gudgell and Thomas A. Simpson of Missouri. Their big break came with the importation of Anxiety 4, a bull credited as being the “father of American Herefords.”
A few of these early breeders came together in Chicago on June 22, 1881. The result was the foundation of the American Hereford Cattle Breeders Association, later renamed the American Hereford Association (AHA). Its purpose was two-fold: to keep the breed’s records and to promote the interests of its breeders.
Seven years later Warren Gammon noticed naturally hornless Herefords at the Trans-Mississippi World’s Fair in Omaha, Neb. He decided to fix the hornless trait using the bull Giant and 11 Hereford females. In 1910 the American Polled Hereford Association (APHA) was founded.
The two Hereford associations merged in 1995, keeping the AHA title. The AHA now registers all horned and polled Herefords.
American Hereford Association (2018, August). Hereford Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://hereford.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/HerefordHeritageFactsheet.pdf